Category Archives: Blessing

An Acceptable Offering

“In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor” – Genesis 4:3-5

I’m pretty passionate about worship! But in more recent years I’ve seen an increasing emphasis across the church seeing worship as something that ‘does it for me’.

Certainly, taking time to worship God has a positive effect on our lives – but it’s not the primary reason we worship, nor should it be our primary motivation. Worship isn’t about God pleasing our hearts – it’s about us pleasing His!

What I think is interesting about this verse is that God did not look on Cain’s offering with favour. It’s easy for us to think that God will accept an offering of worship from us, simply because we’ve taken the time to do it. Cain sure took the time to do it, and not only that but it was probably much harder work for him to dig up some vegetables and clean them up to bring to God, rather than for Abel to select a lamb and sacrifice it. Yet God was pleased with Abel’s offering, and not with Cain’s. He didn’t just take it because it was brought – he was looking for something in particular.

So just because we bring an offering – it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to please God’s heart. We have to look past just what we like, or what does it for us, and ask the same question that Abel did… what does God want? What does it for Him? For Cain, that would have meant getting outside his own comfort zone, and doing something that didn’t come as naturally to him.

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3 Great Reasons To Live Holy

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God – 2 Corinthians 7:1

I read a brilliant post from John Bevere the other day, talking about holiness, and how it’s one of the words that has been lost from the church vocabulary in more recent years. There’s been a strong emphasis on the grace and love of God which has ignited throughout the body of Christ – and well overdue I reckon! But 2000 years after this verse was written, nothing has changed when it comes to the way that God wants us to live our lives in relation to the world around us.

The word ‘holy’ comes from the Greek word haigos which means ‘set apart’, ‘sanctified’ or ‘special’. We’ve made it a very spiritual word, which it is, but we all have things in our everyday lives that we treat as holy. There’s items of clothing that we wouldn’t choose to mow the lawns or clean the house in because they’re for special occasions, not for common purposes. Some have cutlery and tableware that’s not used every week, but set apart for special events. When I was a kid one of my teachers used to have a particular stamp that she would put on work that was outstanding, and everyone knew that to get one of those stamps was worth way more than the regular buzzy-bee 🙂 All of these things were ‘set apart’, ‘special’ and ‘sanctified’.

And that’s how God wants us to view our lives. Everywhere we go, in everything we do, we are on a unique and glorious mission. God has not fashioned our lives to be whittled away on pointless pursuits, or to be caught up with what the world around us is obsessed with. It doesn’t mean that we don’t serve or we live life with some selfish sense of entitlement. But like undercover agents – we are in this world but not of it. We set ourselves apart to stay true to the call we’ve been given.

I don’t think many Christians set out to not live their lives in a holy way before God, but perhaps it’s just more that it can slip down the priority list unless we can see it’s power.

This is why Paul gives us three great reasons in this verse to live holy:

1) Live Holy Because Of What Has Been Promised To You

The verse starts with a ‘therefore’, and as Derek Prince says, whenever you see a ‘therefore’ find out what it’s ‘there for’. The previous chapter ends with some pretty cool things that God is planning on doing:

  • “I will live and walk among you – I will be your God, and you will be my people”
  • “I will be a father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters”

God is really serious about his relationship with us. So if our heart response to God is ‘Lord, I want you to be near, I want to live as your son or daughter’ then surely our life response needs to be one where we put Him first, and leave behind old ways and dead works in order to walk in the promise He’s given.

So we don’t live holy to try to get a blessing from God, we live holy BECAUSE He has blessed us and given us some incredible promises. Why would we settle for anything less?!

2) Live Holy Because The Alternative Wrecks Your Life

I’m not going to fix the car in my good suit and tie, not only because it’s not practical but I also don’t want my good suit stained with oil and grease. Sure I could do it and get it cleaned up, but why let it get dirty in the first place?

Sin contaminates our spirits. Living in ways that are at odds to what God has commanded us isn’t just bad for our relationship with Him, it’s bad for US. If I lose my temper with someone, then when I come to God and ask for forgiveness He will cleanse me of the sin and give me grace for next time. But an impact has been made on the relationship that is now going to need to be worked out.

The blood of Jesus remains powerful to cleanse us from all transgressions, but sin nearly always carries some form of consequence our lives. So we live holy not just because of God’s great promises and intention for us, but also because the alternative just isn’t worth it!

3) Live Holy Out Of Awe And Wonder Of Who God Is

The verse ends with ‘perfecting holiness out of reverence for God’. I love that word ‘perfecting’… it means that we’re still on a journey with this one and it’s not going to happen overnight. But we’re intent on getting to our destination too.

The promise that God has given us is that he wants to walk close to us, and He wants us to be His sons and daughters. How differently would we live our lives if we knew that every moment of every day, the fullness of the presence of God was with us? If Jesus physically turned up one morning and said ‘I’m going to spend the day with you’ – how many things would we do and not do differently? We would make changes to our lives out of love and respect for Him. We would be committed to ‘perfecting holiness out of reverence for God’.

The truth is – He DOES walk with us! He’s closer than we could ever believe. But in order to see His power released, we need to get off the world’s rhythm, and live in time with His heartbeat.

Finally…

“without holiness no one will see the Lord” – Hebrews 12:14

Nearly every time I’ve read that verse, I’ve interpreted it that I won’t get to see God unless I live holy. Certainly there’s truth in that – but I would argue that it’s not about me getting holy to get close to God – because He’s the only one who can make me holy in the first place! Trying to be holy without God’s help is simply dead religion.

I think it’s more that there’s breakthroughs, open doors, opportunities and moments that God wants to bring me into – but without a life that’s actively pursuing Him… I’m likely to miss what He’s wanting to do. Without a ‘holy’ (set apart) life, I won’t ‘see the Lord’ (where He’s going and what He’s doing).

But there’s something else too. I think this verse is about how Christians live in the world around us. When we blend in and just do what the world does, no one sees God. They just see more of the same. But when we live differently, when we live holy, when we make the decisions to do some things and not others because of our relationship with God… then they see something extraordinary. The world around us catches a glimpse of heaven.

That’s absolutely motivation for me to live holy!

Sickness, Healing, And Your Thought Life

I’ve been reading a great book recently called ‘The Essential Guide to Healing’, and in a chapter called ‘Healing And A Prosperous Soul’, the co-author Bill Johnson in passing mentions a mind-blowing statistic:

“We have heard for years that 85 percent of all sickness originates in the mind – not that it is imagined, just that it has its roots in an unhealthy thought life” – Bill Johnson

Could it really be that the state of our thought life is having a much greater effect on our bodies that what we ever realised?

Because Bill prefaced this incredible statistic with the phrase ‘we have heard for years’, I assumed that there would be other easily accessible articles and studies written about it.  So I went to have a look.

Dr Caroline Leaf

6943978_300x300It didn’t take me long to come across Dr Caroline Leaf, who has a PhD in Communication Pathology with a Neuropsychology speciality, and who has spent over 30 years studying the mind-brain connection.  So she’s clearly got some game.

In her post ‘You are What you Think: 75-98% of Mental and Physical Illnesses Come from our Thought Life!‘, Dr Leaf says

“research shows that DNA actually changes shape according to our thoughts” – Dr Caroline Leaf

and she gives a link to an Institute of HeartMath study which in essence tests the effect on DNA of different emotional states.  Their findings were that they saw the DNA change dramatically depending on what the person was thinking and feeling.

This is what the annotation prefacing the research says:

1. When the researchers FELT gratitude, love and appreciation, the DNA responded by RELAXING and the strands unwound. The length of the DNA became longer.

2. When the researchers FELT anger, fear, frustration, or stress, the DNA responded by TIGHTENING UP. It became shorter and SWITCHED OFF many of our DNA codes. The shut down of the DNA codes was reversed and the codes were switched back on again when feelings of love, joy, gratitude and appreciation were felt by the researchers.

(Emphasis mine)

What The Bible Says

Naturally, none of this is a surprise to the One who created our bodies in the first place.  The Bible has a lot to say about the link between what we think and our state of wellbeing.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” – Romans 12:2

“For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he” – Proverbs 23:7

“Guard your heart [your inward way of thinking and processing] above all else, for it is the source of life” – Proverbs 4:23

“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones” – Proverbs 14:30

According to the Scriptures, what goes on in our mind has a profound effect on our physical bodies.

Something To Think About!

So if the findings of this research are correct – then our DNA literally ‘relaxes’ when we feel positive emotions and ‘tightens up’ and ‘switches off’ when we feel negative ones.  This would mean that effective functionality of every cell in our body is partly reliant on the regular emotions that we think and feel.

Thus – by changing the way that we think and feel – we can literally enliven or slowly wreck our own bodies.

So… what do you think?! 🙂  Haha…

Moving Into The Next Season

Then God said to Noah,   “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives.  Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it.” – Genesis 8:15-17

 

If it weren’t for the ark then Noah, his family, and all of the animals would have perished in the flood.  Noah’s faith in God led him to make preparations for and to move into something that would protect him and transition him into the next season.

But when the waters receded and the ground was ready, it was time for Noah and the others to move out of the ark, and into the earth.  God had multiplication, growth and prosperity on His mind – and the ark, as important as it was for the season they’d been in, couldn’t hold them for what God was calling them into.

In the same way, we go through seasons and there’s times when we’re ‘battened down’ and ‘hiding’ in the grace of God while storms blow through our lives.  In these moments it’s easy to develop a ‘seige mentality’ – wondering where the next attack or disaster will come from.  But at it’s best a seige mentality is a maintenance mentaility – it’s not a growth mentality.  There has to be a change in our outlook, in our vision, in our faith – to move us out of our own ‘arks’ and into the promises of God.

It’s a new season for Noah, and perhaps to encourage him to take the step – God gives him a promise… that He will never destroy the whole earth by flooding it again.  He gives Noah His word that the season has absolutely changed and it won’t go back to how it was.

Noah believed God the first time, and built an ark.  How important it was that Noah believed God the second time!  Otherwise he could have found himself living out of the ark… just in case.  How many people in our world have been through a traumatic experience, and cannot transition into a new season because they’re holding on to their old ark… just in case?  That which once protected them becomes their prison.  That which once saved their life now serves to limit them.

God gives us His great and precious promises to coax us out of where we have been, so that He can bring us into a fruitful and blessed place.  That’s His intention and goal.

Thoughts On Job 28 – Mining Gold!

Job 28:1 – Surely there is a mine for silver, and a place for gold which they refine.

Job 28:2 – Iron is taken out of the earth, and copper is smelted out of the ore.

Job 28:3 – Man sets an end to darkness, and searches out, to the furthest bound, the stones of obscurity and of thick darkness.

Job 28:4 – He breaks open a shaft away from where people live. They are forgotten by the foot. They hang far from men, they swing back and forth.

Job 28:5 – As for the earth, out of it comes bread; Underneath it is turned up as it were by fire.

Job 28:6 – Sapphires come from its rocks. It has dust of gold.

Job 28:7 – That path no bird of prey knows, neither has the falcon’s eye seen it.

Job 28:8 – The proud animals have not trodden it, nor has the fierce lion passed by there.

Job 28:9 – He puts forth his hand on the flinty rock, and he overturns the mountains by the roots.

Job 28:10 – He cuts out channels among the rocks. His eye sees every precious thing.

Job 28:11 – He binds the streams that they don’t trickle. The thing that is hidden he brings forth to light.

Job 28:12 – But where shall wisdom be found? Where is the place of understanding?

Job 28:13 – Man doesn’t know its price; Neither is it found in the land of the living.

Job 28:14 – The deep says, ‘It isn’t in me.’ The sea says, ‘It isn’t with me.’

Job 28:15 – It can’t be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for its price.

Job 28:16 – It can’t be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire{or, lapis lazuli}.

Job 28:17 – Gold and glass can’t equal it, neither shall it be exchanged for jewels of fine gold.

Job 28:18 – No mention shall be made of coral or of crystal. Yes, the price of wisdom is above rubies.

Job 28:19 – The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, Neither shall it be valued with pure gold.

Job 28:20 – Whence then comes wisdom? Where is the place of understanding?

Job 28:21 – Seeing it is hidden from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the birds of the sky.

Job 28:22 – Destruction and Death say, ‘We have heard a rumor of it with our ears.’

Job 28:23 – God understands its way, and he knows its place.

1)     There is a place where gold and silver are found

It’s not found everywhere.  True treasure is hidden, and it has to be searched for.  But it is SOMEWHERE!

There is treasure in our ministries… but we have to look for it.  It’s often not found just lying around in the easy places.  But it IS there!

2)    Iron is taken out of the ground and copper is smelted

That which is of great value doesn’t start off as great value.  There’s work to be done to turn it into great value.  You don’t just pick up iron & copper – it has to be worked with and processed.

There IS WORK in our ministries to be done.  We co-labour, co-ergo with God.  Just because God’s in the equation it doesn’t mean everything comes easy!

3)    Man sets an end to darkness, and searches out the furtherest bounds

There comes a point in our lives and ministries where we say ‘there must be more’.  I’m not happy with what I’m seeing, with where things are.  I’m going to go exploring.  I’m going to try some things.

Our quest for gold begins with our dissatisfaction at what we currently have.  Settlers never find gold, only explorers do!

4)    Gold is far away from people, and you have to hang there a while

The place where gold is found is away from the crowds.  There’s no signs pointing to it!  Not only that but you have to be prepared to ‘hang’ for a while, swinging back and forth.  Can feel like a pointless endeavour – is anything ever going to happen?

But that’s the process to find gold.  And it’s the same with our ministries.  The most valuable thing we can be doing is exploring.  Our settlements process the gold.  But our mines and explorations discover it.  If the gold starts to dry up, so do our settlements!

5)    No bird of prey / falcon has found it

Those who are looking for a quick feed and an easy path won’t strike gold.  Gold isn’t found by the birds of prey – the scavengers.

6)    He puts his hand on the flinty rock

There is something very tactile, time-consuming, and involved about looking for gold.  It takes time.  YOU have to do it.  You can’t just delegate it to someone else.  Your hand has to touch the flinty rock.  You have to cut the channels.  You have to stop the water flowing (a difficult thing) so that you can find what’s hidden beneath it.

It’s like that with people’s lives.  We have to touch them.  We have to be prepared to bury deep with them, and to stop up the distractions that are flowing over the top so that we can get to the gold.

7)     The thing that is hidden is brought forth to the light

Finally, after all of the process – the gold is found, and brought from the darkness into the light.

THEN HE SAYS… now, what about wisdom?!  Where do you find it?  The answer… God knows the way.  He’s the only one who can direct us in the things that we’re facing today.

Justified

Acts 13:39 – and by him everyone who believes is justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.

There’s a few words that the Bible uses that aren’t usually a part of our everyday language – words like sanctified, justified, redeemed etc.  But when we understand what these words mean it can really help us grasp what God has done for us.

In this verse we read that by Christ, everyone who believes is JUSTIFIED from all things, and that we could not be JUSTIFIED by the law of Moses.  What does it mean to be justified?

imageMost word processing programs like Microsoft Word have a series of buttons that let you align the text.  You can centre it, or push it left or right.  But there’s one button which is called ‘justified’.  When you click, it pushes out the edges of your text to the margins, giving a nice even flow down the page. 

It’s not a bad illustration of what it’s like when God justifies us.  The page margins are like perfection, and the words we type are like our thoughts and deeds.  They don’t measure up to perfection, often falling short.  But when God justifies us, it’s like He makes up the missing difference to make us perfect. 

The law of Moses can only point out our sin, showing us where we fall short.  It has no power to make us righteous or to clean us up.  But through His sacrifice on the cross, Christ now JUSTIFIES us – and even if we fall short – by His grace and mercy HE makes up for it and presents us before God the Father as perfect.